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Why are so many events celebrating composer Leonard Bernstein?

February 9, 2018 Updated: February 9, 2018 at 3:20 pm
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Students in the Indiana University School of Music got a rare treat as composer Leonard Bernstein offered his services as a teacher to a conducting class in the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington, Feb. 5, 1982. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic is celebrating Bernstein's legacy and the centennial of his birth with a six-week festival that begins Jan. 27. (AP Photo/Terhune)

There's a reason you've been hearing about Leonard Bernstein a lot lately.

This year - Aug. 25, to be exact - marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of an American conductor and composer also known for his advocacy of human rights. It's been called the "Year of Lenny."

Music organizations across the globe are holding events to commemorate Bernstein, a past music director of the New York Philharmonic and 16-time Grammy winner, who died in 1990. He was also known for his televised Young People's Concerts on CBS, which helped to popularize classical music.

One of Bernstein's enduring quotes is: "Life without music is unthinkable. Music without life is academic. That is why my contact with music is a total embrace."

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic is in the midst of a six-week festival, "Leonard Bernstein at 100: The Best of All Possible Worlds," which includes 14 concerts as well as events at other Springs venues.

"People will walk away from this festival refreshed and with a better understanding of a person we think we all know," said Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Philharmonic.

The first concert was Jan. 27-28, "Bernstein No. 1," which featured the composer's "Overture to Candide," "Symphony No. 1, Jeremiah" and "West Side Story: Symphonic Dances" as well as Mahler's "Songs of Wayfarer" - all conducted by Josep Caballé-Domenech.

See the list at right for more Bernstein festival events coming to the Pikes Peak region.

To see events on an international scale, follow the hashtag #Bernsteinat100 on Twitter.

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